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Using inundation deposits to constrain the storm surge heights of storms that affected New York City, NY: How does Hurricane Sandy compare? Christine M.

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Presentation on theme: "Using inundation deposits to constrain the storm surge heights of storms that affected New York City, NY: How does Hurricane Sandy compare? Christine M."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using inundation deposits to constrain the storm surge heights of storms that affected New York City, NY: How does Hurricane Sandy compare? Christine M. Brandon, University of Massachusetts Amherst Jonathan D. Woodruff, University of Massachusetts Amherst Top left: The field area is located in the U.S. Northeast. Bottom left: Sites are located on Staten Island’s southern coast (red box). Right: Location of Wolfe’s Pond, Seguine Pond, and Arbutus Lake. The Harbor Hill moraine on Staten Island’s southern coast, deposited during the Last Glacial Maximum (~20,500-18,000 years ago). Regional Setting Jeffery P. Donnelly, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution # Geomorphic Change of the Ponds Main Points Radiometric dating Contaminants The presence of three industrially derived metals (zinc, lead, and mercury) in Core WP2. The concentrations are much lower in the Hurricane Sandy inundation layer and “cap” more contaminated fine-grained sediments below. References NOAA Tides and Currents (2013), available from Scileppi, E. and J. P. Donnelly (2007), Sedimentary evidence of hurricane strikes in western Long Island, New York, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 8, Q Walling, H.F. (1859), Staten Island, Richmond County, New York The Effect of Sea Level Rise The importance of extreme events in shaping ecosystems and governing sediment transport is in part determined by how often these events occur. By their very nature these events are rare, making it difficult to accurately assess their return frequency. On October 29, 2012 Hurricane Sandy inundated New York City, NY, raising water levels to 3.5 m above mean sea level at the Battery (located at the south end of lower Manhattan). Historical records indicate that this is the highest measured water level since records began at this location in the mid-1700s and simulated hurricane climatology ranks this storm as a 1-in-1000 year event. However, tide gauge data alone is generally too short to either obtain meaningful extreme value statistics, or evaluate the skill of flood probabilities derived solely from numerical simulations. Thus there is a real need for longer flood reconstructions of the New York City region. Further, questions remain with respect to whether extreme events like Sandy serve to mobilize contaminants (e.g. lead, mercury) within the harbor or cover these sediments with more pristine glacial material eroded from the surrounding landscape. Sediment cores were taken from Seguine and Wolfe’s Ponds (back-barrier ponds) located on Staten Island’s southern coast, about one month after Hurricane Sandy impacted the area. Additional cores were taken from Arbutus Lake in September The cores contain several coarse grained deposits most likely associated with storm surge inundation of the ponds, including a surficial deposit associated with Hurricane Sandy’s surge. Age constraints on the inundation deposits are developed by using the Cs-137 radiometric dating method and the onset of industrially derived heavy metals. The grain size distribution is measured for the event deposits to help constrain flow conditions required for erosion and transport of sediment. We find that 1) several deposits have a maximum grain size larger than Hurricane Sandy’s deposit, suggesting that they were created by larger storm surges, 2) sea-level rise is one cause of Sandy’s very high water levels relative to these older storms, and 3) inundation deposits show lower concentrations of heavy metals than the background sediment, suggesting that storms can sequester contaminated sediments. Abstract Arbutus Lake Seguine Pond 50 m SG4 SG2 SG3 SG1 Overwash fan Wolfe’s Pond WP1 WP2 WP3 50 m Inlet opened by Irene An 1859 map of the three ponds. Note that all of the ponds had inlets to Raritan Bay. 50 m AL6 AL4 AL2 Lateral Trends in the Hurricane Sandy depositHurricane Sandy and other Coarse Deposits Wolfe’s Pond Depth (cm) WP2 Photo Hur. Sandy Deposit Depth (cm) Zn (XRF int.) Erosional horizons? 137 Cs (Bq/g) WP2 X-ray WP2 Photo WP2 X-ray A core from Wolfe’s Pond showing a truncated historic record, possibly by erosion from inundation events. The Hurricane Sandy deposit has a red color, indicative of glacial fines. Hur. Sandy Deposit 1821 storm Seguine Pond Depth (cm) SG2 Photo SG2 X-ray Zn (XRF int.) 1963 AD Cs (Bq/g) 1954 AD 1850 AD SG2 Photo SG2 X-ray Depth (cm) A core from Seguine Pond showing several inundation deposits (green arrows). The Sandy deposit is again distinguished by a red color. Arbutus Lake Depth (cm) Depth (cm) Zn (XRF int.) Hur. Sandy Deposit AL4 Photo AL4 X-ray AL3 Photo AL3 X-ray A core from Arbutus Lake showing several inundation deposits (green arrows). The black arrows denote particularly thick deposits. Wolfe’s Pond Arbutus Lake Seguine Pond Percent Coarse (%) Depth (cm) > 63 μm > 38 μm Core SG1Core SG2Core SG3Core SG4 Median (D50) grain size The percentage of coarse, clastic material (grain size > 63 µm) in the Hurricane Sandy deposit in the four cores collected from Seguine Pond (November 2012). The deposit decreases in both thickness and %coarse with increasing distance from the coast. Also shown is the percentage of material > 38 µm (gray areas) which exhibits the opposite trend as the coarse material. Battery New Jersey Brooklyn Staten Island Arbutus Lake Seguine Pond Wolfe’s Pond 100 km CTNY NJ Atlantic Ocean Harbor Hill Terminal Moraine 10 km 1 km Top: The field sites as they appeared in Bottom: The sites after Hurricane Sandy’s landfall (images taken on Nov. 3, 2012). Note the new overwash fans at Seguine Pond and the inlet in Wolfe’s Pond. Hurricane Sandy deposit compared with other historic inundation deposits. This deposit had the second largest median (D 50 ) grain size after the 1821 hurricane deposit, but among the smallest D 90 grain size Elevation relative to MSL (m) Year (AD) Hurricane Sandy produced the largest recorded water level by far (records from tide gauge at the Battery, New York City beginning in 1920). However, three reconstructed water levels show that past hurricanes may have produced similar or larger water levels than Hurricane Sandy. Maximum Yearly Water Levels at the Battery, NYC After accounting for ~2.7 mm of sea level rise per year (NOAA, 2013) Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge is just as large or slightly smaller than the surges produced by storms in 1788, 1821, and Long-Term Sea-Level Trend at Battery (2.7 mm/y) NOAA, 2013 Elevation relative to MSL (m) Several deposits have a maximum grain size larger than Hurricane Sandy’s deposit, suggesting that they were created by larger storm surges. Sea-level rise is one cause of Sandy’s very high water levels relative to these older storms. Inundation deposits show lower concentrations of heavy metals than the background sediment, suggesting that storms can sequester contaminated sediments. Core gap Cs (Bq/g) 1963 AD 1954 AD Depth (cm) WP2 Photo WP2 X-ray Zn (XRF int.) Pb (XRF int.) Hg (ppb) Low High Background ? Hur. Sandy Deposit


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